LIKE most car-mad teenagers, Leeds-born James Kellett grew up dreaming of being an F1 driver.
He still does, but the 17-year-old realises that becoming the next Lewis Hamilton is something of a pipedream.
Yet Kellett has every right to target being a pro racing driver with dreams of a career in British GT or Le Mans further fuelled following a stunning triumph in his first year as a senior.
Former Roundhay School pupil Kellett has bagged the 2015 British GT5 Ginetta Championship in his first year of senior racing, continuing a rapid rise up the ranks of motor sport.
After a glittering karting career, Kellett made history by winning all but four races of the 2013 Ginetta Junior Winter Series and has now followed his crowning as 2014 Junior vice champ with his most impressive championship win to date.
And now the Yorkshireman has every chance of fulfilling his very realistic dream of becoming a professional driver in either the British GT series which the GT5 Ginetta supports or as a driver in the the 24-hours Le Mans series.
Kellett makes no bones about admitting that F1 remains the pinnacle of motor sport and while his recent exploits suggest he’d be well worth a crack at the ultimate big time, the teenager admits, financially, there’s little chance of that threatening to happen.
The Askham Bryan College pupil will also need sponsorship and funding to make even the step up the ladder – to GT4 level – but there is no doubting Kellett’s current acceleration up the ranks.
Taking time out from his busy schedule at his new home in Whixley, Kellett told the YEP: “I still think Formula One is extremely strong and it’s going to be extremely strong because Formula One is the height of motorsport and everybody watches it.
“But I believe the way to go now for racing drivers and the better drivers – drivers that rely on talent rather than funding – I think it’s definitely better to go British GT/GT cars and Le Mans, definitely. And that’s the way I’m going to be going from now on.
“Single seaters is extremely expensive but between the GT route and single-seater route there is no difference in talent whatsoever. It’s extremely hard to go down both ways but single seaters is just for people who have got a lot of money.
“No question – if I had the chance to be able to race in a championship of single seater I’d definitely do it but I would rather be in a GT car.
“From GT racing there’s loads of different routes. There’s British GT and I’m in that paddock at the minute with the GT5. That goes up to British GT3 cars.
“Then there’s Le Mans which is 24 hours racing, proper endurance racing where you share a car with a few drivers and that’s extremely good.
“There’s loads of different things as you can go to Australia V8 with V8 cars and go over to America and places like.
“But where I want to go and where I want to be is British GT and the Le Mans area. I really want to make a career out of motorsport.”
One way or the other, Kellett looks sure to do just that with the teenager now doing a Level 3 in Motorsport at Askham Bryan College in York.
It’s a short drive for the teenager who lives with mum Julie and dad Lee in Whixley having recently moved from Oakwood in Leeds.
Kellett was previously educated at Gledhow Primary and Moorlands Private School and certainly passed this year’s GT5 examination with flying colours, surpassing all initial expectations.
The Leeds ace admitted: “You go into the championship thinking ‘right, it’s my first year and it would be good getting podiums out there and maybe a few wins but not really looking to win the championship in the first year. Well I’ve gone and done it in my first year so that’s extremely good!”
The teenager now hopes the step up to GT4 or GT3 is next.
Kellett reasoned: “I’m sure from what I’ve done in this championship – winning it first time and as young as I am – I’m positive that something will come out of it.
“Next year hasn’t been decided yet and because of the budget it’s going to be extremely hard for me and my mum and dad to be able to afford to go anything higher than what I am doing at the minute so sponsorship would be massive.
“There’s two classes of British GT – there’s the GT4 class and the GT3 class which is the main class there is.
“The GT4 class is still British GT but in terms of being McLarens, Porsches, Ferraris and Aston Martins it’s a bit more restricted. The cars are not as expensive and that would be the perfect kind of next level to be honest.
“I just hope something comes from this year because I have proved that I have got a lot of talent.
“I’ve proved to everybody that I’m fast that I can drive anything – that I don’t have to have a year in it before I’m good enough. I can just jump in a car and go quickly pretty much straight away and that’s what the big teams like McLaren, Aston Martin are wanting from a driver.”
Leeds, it seems, is good at producing such drivers with Kellett the city’s latest Leeds discovery in motor sport and following in the tracks of Sam Tordoff and Dan Cammish.
Tordoff continues to be a consistent performer in the British Touring Car Championship while Cammish still looks destined for a bigger stage following a brilliant year in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB – of which he will probably be crowned champion this weekend.
To Kellett, both are inspirations, and at 17 years of age he has time on his side.
“Every racing driver that makes it as far as they have is an inspiration to me and everything they have done is exactly what I want to do,” said Kellett.
“I really want to follow in their footsteps.
“I know Dan has gone into the Porsche Carrera GB Cup this year and he’s been really quick. Sam is obviously doing the British Touring Cars and he is doing extremely well in that as well.”
Kellett added: “Just to follow their footsteps would be extremely good but it’s harder for me because they are so much older than me! I am trying to do what they are doing but instead of being mid-20s I’m 17! I guess it’s good how I am so young and doing what I am doing.”